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For Sale by Owner
The Fall Mullet Run
by Paul MacInnis
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1.
As you read this article it is likely somewhere along the east coast of Florida a cadre of hardcore
surf anglers are enjoying their best surf fishing of the year, a bounty that comes from the season
of the mullet.
It starts sometime in August. Shorter days, cooler weather (cooler up north at least) and probably
other factors we don’t understand trigger a mass exodus of mullet from their summering
grounds in the estuaries of Georgia, the Carolinas and beyond. Mullet of all sizes from fingerlings
to full grown adults exit en masse through the passes and turn south on a months long
migration. Their journey ultimately takes them to the southern tip of Florida, that is if they can
survive the almost nonstop assault from hordes of hungry predators that arrive to feast on this
Central Florida surf fisherman George (Chuck) Waters relates this story about his first encounter
with the mullet migration. “When I got to the beach I realized I had left my bait and my cast net
back at home. Not a problem, finger mullet were everywhere! Blues, jacks and other fish were
pushing the bait right up to the shore. All we had to do was pick up the stragglers that washed
up on the beach. It was incredible, pure chaos, bent rods, broken lines and one fish after another
until our arms hurt!”
This type of action repeats itself every year. The mullet migration, or mullet run as most of us call
it, offers what many fishermen consider the best surf fishing of the year. Virtually any fish that
swims Florida waters and eats mullet can be caught at one time or another during the run. Snook,
redfish, bluefish, crevalle jacks, and spanish mackerel are common catches, and plenty of the big
boys, tarpon and sharks, are around to crash the party.
Any particular stretch of the east coast can expect a run that lasts from one to two months. Don
Whitman of the Leader & Sinker tackle shop in Fernandina Beach says the first mullet show up on
Florida’s northern boarder in late August, but the peak is mid September through mid October.
By the end of October all but the last vestiges of the run have moved to parts further south. At
the other end of the state, Captain Carl Ball who fishes the Ft Lauderdale and Miami area says the
mullet arrive around the beginning of October, with the peak being mid October to mid-
November. Usually by the end of November the mullet migration is over, which is when serious
surfcasters pack away their heavy lures and start thinking about the pompano run just around the